Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Ere I saw Elsa

We are under way eastbound in Long Island Sound, bound for Port Jefferson harbor. We just passed Eatons Neck, and the plotter is projecting an arrival in just another couple of hours. It's an early stop, but the next safe harbor is another six hours.

Thursday was a rainy day in Port Washington, and the weather more or less kept us on the boat for two full days. We took advantage of a break in the rain Thursday to make a grocery run to the nice Stop & Shop store across the street from the dinghy dock, and we loaded up two backpacks and a couple of shopping bags.

The fresh provisions made for an enjoyable dinner aboard Thursday evening, whereas Wednesday we had had to make do with frozen veggies. Friday was equally gloomy, but we again found enough of a break in the middle of the day to go ashore for errands; I hit up Target, West Marine, Ace Hardware and Walgreens, while Louise browsed Home Goods and picked up another item at the grocery store. We made it home just as the rain was starting again.

Independence Day in Hempstead Harbor, Glen Cove, NY.

Also Friday we had a new snubber made up to replace the one that parted in Stuart back in February. I'd been looking for someone to do this in each port since then, and on our way to Port Washington I called the harbormaster for a recommendation. He referred me to the guy who sells the moorings and also runs the water taxi, who said he could make one up but he only had galvanized, rather than stainless, thimbles. 

I still had the thimbles from the old one, and we agreed he'd swing by and get them, then return with a new snubber. I had called when we arrived Wednesday, and he showed up in his water taxi Friday morning. The snubber was waiting for us when we got back from shopping, and he swung by afterwards to collect his very reasonable fee. I had it installed before we left town, returning the old one back to the spares locker.

Another break in the rain came just before dinner time, and we returned ashore for a nice casual meal at Amalfi's, one of our old standbys in the same nearby shopping plaza. The impromptu outdoor dining in the parking lot from our last visit is gone, but the place was uncrowded and we felt comfortable eating indoors. We walked back to Home Goods to pick up a small table Louise had spotted for her laptop on her earlier visit.

This robot was cleaning the floor at Stop & Shop. It's actually traveling to the left, which is forward, but clearly this side was more conducive to adding the whimsical googly eyes and face mask, which gave us both a chuckle.

We were securely back home and enjoying the evening when a line of thunderstorms hit with a vengeance. A mad scramble of boats returned to the harbor, many ignoring the 5mph speed limit to make it back to their berths. A short while later the distress calls started coming in to the Coast Guard.

One of those calls was from a small sailboat from the next harbor east, with a family on board, that could not make headway against the 40mph wind and was being blown toward the rocks. They were just a bit over a mile from us. Two police boats bashed their way across the sound from Mamaroneck to assist; they reported five foot seas, which is a lot for a small boat. They ended up escorting the sailboat back to Hempstead Harbor and then bashed their way back home.

Saturday morning we made a quick jaunt back to Home Goods in the morning. The table did not work out and we wanted to return it. When we got home we decked the tender and weighed anchor for Hempstead Harbor, just an hour away. I had read there would be a nice fireworks display, and when I pulled down the weekly Notices to Mariners, I found the limits of the security zone for them.

We had a nice sunset at Hempstead Harbor ahead of the fireworks.

We arrived in yet more rain and dropped the hook in the designated anchorage, just inside the protection of the breakwater (map). We were just on the edge of the published security zone. The anchorage was a sea of mooring balls; we were the only boat at anchor. By dinner time the rain let up enough for us to go ashore for dinner at The Cove, which has a dock for guests. We ate on the patio, a bit on the cool side. The weather had the hired DJ in the tiki bar area looking a bit bored.

Saturday was a pleasant enough day, and I considered running ashore at the boat ramp. But it's a mile and a half walk into Glen Cove from there, and there was nothing we needed, so we just had a quiet day aboard. I had been advised to be well anchored by 1pm, and, sure enough, not long after that the constant procession of day boats started arriving and jockeying for position in the anchorage for the fireworks. For us, watching this process, and the inevitable exodus afterward, is often more entertaining than the fireworks themselves.

I was very glad to have plotted the security zone ahead of time. Even though we were in a designated anchorage, the Marine Patrol came over to our neighborhood and rousted several boats between us and the fireworks barge. One of them still ended up between us, a 55 Prestige you can see in the photos, which also was one of the very few boats that spent the night.

Another of the many nice shells. If you zoom in you can see the barge ablaze.

While not as impressive as the NYC extravaganza on the East River (you can find snippets on YouTube), or even some of the shows we've seen in the past, it was still a good show. From our vantage point in our patio chairs on the boat deck, we could also see the shows across the sound in Rye, Mamaroneck, and a few other spots.  The harbor is surrounded by cliffs, and each percussive shell reverberated from every direction; it was actually a pretty cool effect.

Yesterday morning we weighed anchor with the favorable tide for a short cruise to Northport, just two bays east. We've never been there, in part because it's a long way in and out from the sound and we are usually moving faster. On this pass, with a loose schedule, I thought it would be a nice stop, as I read they have a free dinghy dock and a welcoming attitude, with several restaurants and shops an easy walk from the waterftont.

The forecast was for winds out of the south, which would make for an easy day. But when we rounded the corner into the sound, we found 15-20 on the nose, so easterly. With the entire fetch of the sound, we pounded over short-period three footers for a half hour before deciding it was not worth the discomfort. We opted to put Northport off for a day and turned instead into Oyster Bay.

The best shot my phone could do of several displays across the sound in Westchester.

Oyster Bay has never been on our radar because there is no place to get ashore unless you pay for a mooring ball. Those are $45 per night. They include launch service, but figure another ten bucks in tips. So that's $55 for nothing other than the privilege of visiting town, before you's spent even a dime on beer or food. We figure towns like this don't want our business, and we cooperate by not giving them any. In this case, however, we needed the shelter.

We had to drive deep into the harbor to find a sheltered spot to anchor, and we dropped the hook in a place called The Cove (map), across the way from Billy Joel's sprawling $37m estate on Moss Point. We had the hook down early, and several raft-ups of day boats came into the cove throughout the afternoon. They were all gone by bedtime, and we had a quiet night.  After dark we were treated to another fireworks display, visible over the hills to our southwest. We could hear yet another display across the sound in Connecticut, but our view was blocked by hills. I grilled steaks aboard and we never even splashed the tender.

Billy Joel's estate as we departed the anchorage this morning. One of many very expensive homes on Centre Island (now connected to the mainland).

Update: We are anchored in a familiar spot in Port Jefferson Harbor (map). This morning as we contemplated making our originally planned stop in Northport, a check of the forecasts revealed that Elsa has reared her ugly head, and we need to be well in quarters someplace by Thursday afternoon, as a precaution. Weather always trumps destinations, and we opted to make a beeline for Peconic Bay, where we have marina reservations at the end of this weekend. That will put us in the bay very early, but there are lots of places we can seek shelter there.

That finds us here in Port Jeff tonight, with Truman Cove, an indentation in the north shore, our destination tomorrow. That's a six-hour trip, and we could easily make Peconic Bay if not for the fact that we'd arrive at Plum Gut with the full force of the considerable tide against us. Stopping in the cove will allow us to time our arrival Thursday with the current behind us. Where, exactly, we end up in the region will depend, in part, on what the forecast looks like tomorrow afternoon.

When next you hear from me, Elsa will have passed, and we will be counting down to our stay in Greenport and visiting with our good friends in Southold.

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